It is a small SME with twelve employees which is in the process of moving into its new premises of 500 m2 within the industrial zone of the lighthouse, in Mérignac. Eos Technologie has left the suburbs of Toulon to join the aeronautical ecosystem of the Bordeaux metropolis, where the drone sector is as dense as it is dynamic.
Founded in 2018 by Sébastien Verniaud, a former soldier, and Nicolas Ritter, an electronics technician, the company targets the defense markets. In Bordeaux, it will assemble and test its three models of electric flying drones intended for intelligence, surveillance, research and target acquisition missions in support of the armed forces, French or foreign.
“Once we have programmed their flight plan, the drones carry out their mission autonomously, even if the operator can take control at any time if he wishes. They are intended for observation missions. -there is no on-board weaponry, since it is prohibited in France, but these are applications that we are thinking about”, explains Nicolas Ritter to La Tribune.
The smaller Strix 300 and Strix 400 models, up to 4.25 meters wingspan and 7 kg, can be hand launched while the Endurance 900, which reaches nine meters wingspan and 25 kg, can only be launched by hand. only needs 50 meters to take off. Mobility and the ability to adapt to all types of terrain are in fact part of the qualities required for such machines in current theaters of operations.
The Strix 400 from Eos Technologie is easily transportable (credits: Eos Technologie).
Rapid take-off in a buoyant market
Manufactured 80% in France, in its factory in Grenoble (Isère), Eos Technologie’s drones are already deployed with the French army, particularly in the Sahel, and discussions are underway with several West African countries. the West. Long perceived as futuristic gadgets, drones – surveillance or armed – have rapidly gained credibility in recent years with successful baptisms of fire in recent theaters of operations including the civil war in Libya (2020), the Armenia- Azerbaijan (2020) and the Russian invasion of Ukraine (2022). American drones or the Turkish drone Bayraktar demonstrated their relevance.
“Since the beginning of the year, everything has accelerated. There are a lot of calls for tenders circulating, particularly in Europe and Africa. The war in Ukraine was a trigger and our customers are asking us to move forward more rapidly”, confirms Nicolas Ritter. Eos Technology thus intends to put itself in battle order to produce 60 drones per year from 2023 then around thirty machines per month.
“The ambition of the French armies is now to make drones common equipment that will equip most deployed units. There is therefore a very important market that is opening up with the advantage, for us, of being a French player “, continues the co-founder.
Ten million euros in three years
The young company plans to quickly recruit around thirty employees, two-thirds of them in Bordeaux. After 400,000 euros in turnover in 2021, Eos Technologie expects 1.8 million euros this year before six million euros next year and ten million euros by 2025. And the competition ? “It is mostly foreign, especially American and Israeli. But there are so many requests from the armed forces that today there are not enough companies to respond to them”smiles Nicolas Ritter, for whom the choice to set up in Bordeaux owes nothing to chance:
“Bordeaux concentrates a series of assets with an aeronautical attraction center, an airport, armed forces, support from the Region and the Metropolis, a flight test center and the animation around UAV Show and of Bordeaux Technowest”, salute Nicolas Ritter.
It is moreover in New Aquitaine, on the air base 709 of Cognac, that the Reaper drones are stationed, these unmanned American machines deployed by the French Army in the Sahel. For its part, in Gironde, the Cesa test center, a subsidiary of Bordeaux Technowest piloted by Nicolas Parant, is indeed a strong argument with its 50 km corridor along the Médoc coast allowing long-distance drone tests. “We are very happy to welcome Eos Technology to the regional ecosystem. It is a promising company that meets a clear need in the defense market”, salute Adrien Selvon, head of the aeronautics-space-defense sector at Bordeaux Technowest.